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    Accident or Invitation?

    Therese anguished over the decision of what to do with the gloves.

    After watching Carol Aird float away, she wasn’t herself for a long time. She felt as if she had nitrous oxide at the dentist. She couldn’t focus. She didn’t feel like she was fully present the rest of the afternoon, sort of floating above herself, looking down.

    The gloves pulled her back to reality. Carol Aird left her gloves. Was it accidental? Good luck? She thought of that stunning, chiseled face of the blonde, and the long, slender hands emerging from the gloves. Therese couldn’t take her eyes from her.

    She stared at her gloves. She stole a glance around the holiday shoppers, no one needing her immediate attention. She looked to where she last laid eyes on Mrs. Aird, but she knew she wasn’t returning. She gently let her fingers walk across the counter top to touch the gloves. They were even softer than she imagined. She gently covered them with her full hand.

    It was Christmas. There was some light snow, and yet Therese knew that Carol Aird wasn’t coming back for the gloves. “How do I know?” Therese questioned herself. “I just do.” With that realization, she drifted through the rest of her day trying on each option of how to return the gloves to Mrs. Aird.

    She could put them in the mail with a letter. A letter?! That would be too bold. Also, it would take her days to come up with just the right wording.

    She could turn them into the lost and found office. No, that won’t help a thing. Mrs. Aird wouldn’t be going to lost and found. The gloves were an invitation, of sorts. Therese had to accept clearly. If not, there would be nothing further.

    That thought saddened her deeply. She needed to see Carol Aird again. She needed to know more about this woman unlike any other.

    She had the train option, as well. She could just send them back with the train Mrs. Aird purchased. No, that wasn’t a clear enough response. It was almost lazy and could be just written off as disinterest.

    She put them in an envelope with a form letter with her employee number. She asked the envelope to be delivered with the train. It was safe ground. First, she didn’t have to anguish to come up with the right wording. Also, it sent a volley to Mrs. Aird to see if Therese was right… was it an invitation, or had her imagination run far, far away that Mrs. Aird was looking as closely at Therese as Therese was Mrs. Aird.

    She half expected Mrs. Aird to show up with the gloves and letter. “Are you Employee 645-A?,” Mrs. Aird would ask with her breathy voice? Therese didn’t have to wait long, but it wasn’t a re-appearance of the blonde.

    When she was called to the office, her heart raced, “Please let it be her… please let it be her…” She never received calls at work, thankfully. It wasn’t worth the reproach of the manager. Plus, there was no one she really wanted to hear from.

    Therese reached for the phone, and held her breath as said “Hello” as if it were a question.

    “So it was you,” as if she didn’t know where she had left my gloves.

    “Oh – hello. Mrs. Aird? Did you – receive the train set alright?” She knew Carol’s voice after 4 words.

    “I did. And the gloves. Thank you so much. You’re a star for sending them. I just called to say – thank you, really.” Therese was trembling, gently. What if this is all there is…a  thank you, nothing more?

    “Do you get a lunch there? – Let me take you It’s the least I can do.”

    I – well. Yes, of course. But you really don’t…” She was tripping over herself. There wanted to  seem interested, but she didn’t want to jump at the invitation. She was afraid she was too obvious.

    “Let me take you to lunch tomorrow. I’ll be in the city. Do you know Longchamp?”

    “Tomorrow?” A shot of adrenaline coursed through Therese’s body. Fear and anticipation battled each other. “No, I don’t know it. Hold on.” She asked the surly manager for a pencil and paper to write down the address. She didn’t care about the reproachful look. Nothing else mattered. Carol Aird called her. Even better, Carol Aird asked her to lunch. She wouldn’t miss it for anything. Not one thing.

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